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  • Writer's pictureBijan T

Innocent Man Exonerated after 25 years with High School Work

Updated: Apr 19

Just last week, a man convicted for a drive-by shooting in Whittier, California, was exonerated. Miguel Solorio, now 44, spent 25 years behind bars. His wrongful conviction was a classic case of eyewitness misidentification. Witnesses were repeatedly shown picture after picture of him, reshaping their memory to pinpoint him as the culprit. Even though he had alibi witnesses, he was inevitably convicted.

His momentous exoneration only came after hard work from the Northern California Innocence Project, public defender Ellen Eggers, part-high-school-counselor part-attorney-intern Jessica Jacobs, and a select group of high school students, including Bijan Taheri and Helena Palladino of Youth for Innocence.

Miguel Solorio at a Northern California Innocence Project press release

Miguel enjoying his newfound freedom (photo by Santa Clara Law)

Miguel Solorio’s case was first examined by Eggers and Jacobs in 2020. At the same time, Jacobs began sharing her legal work with her high school students. Two high school students, Bijan Taheri and Helena Palladino, who would later work to establish Youth for Innocence, began work on the case. Writing hundreds of pages of RT notes, these high school students shaved days and weeks off the time from wrongful conviction to exoneration.

After hard work on RT notes and investigating the case, the case and newly discovered, exculpatory evidence was sent to the Northern California Innocence Project, where they wrote the writ of habeas corpus and exonerated an innocent man.

High school students can truly make an impact on wrongful convictions.

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